Recipe Review

The Vietnamese Chicken Salad I Can’t Stop Making (It’s So Crunchy and Light!)

published May 11, 2024
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Vietnamese shredded chicken salad mixed with cabbage and carrots, garnished with fresh cilantro and lime; a pair of chopsticks and prawn chips are also on the table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

One of my go-to grocery items, especially as the weather gets warmer and I don’t want to cook, is rotisserie chicken. It’s delicious on its own, but love it most for making a tangy, salty, slightly sweet Vietnamese chicken salad, called Gỏi Gà.

Gỏi gà, which translates to “chicken salad,” is a perfect lazy summer dinner, and using rotisserie chicken means you don’t need to turn on the stovetop. But what makes this chicken salad exceptional is the dressing. The salty punch of fish sauce is wonderfully balanced with garlic and sugar, creating a zesty, delightful dressing perfect for crunchy vegetables and chicken.

What Makes This Vietnamese Chicken Salad So Good

This recipe is forgiving, flexible, and perfect for either a solo meal or for feeding friends. It calls for veggies like shredded cabbage, carrots, and red onions, but it’s the perfect clean-out-the-fridge salad. I make it all the time with whatever I already have — bell peppers or napa cabbage work great! 

Another key component that makes this salad extra delicious is a generous shower of fried shallots (emphasis on the generous). I like to really load up on them because when they stick to the shredded rotisserie chicken and veggies, they create an incredibly crunchy and satisfying bite that makes you want to go for another immediately. Sure, you can make fried shallots from scratch, but I always have a big jar of store-bought stuff in my pantry (3 Mien is my favorite!). 

How to Make Vietnamese Chicken Salad

  1. Prepare the veggies and chicken. You can poach chicken breast as the recipe says, but you can easily just use rotisserie chicken instead. Then, just make the pickled red onions, which only take 15 minutes. While the onions are pickling, chop green cabbage, carrots, and fresh cilantro. 
  2. Make the dressing. Whisk chopped garlic, freshly squeezed lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, and sugar to combine. 
  3. Toss and serve! Combine everything, then drizzle the dressing all over and toss to combine. Garnish with fried shallots and devour. 

If You’re Making Vietnamese Chicken Salad, a Few Tips 

  • Feel free to double the dressing. It’s so good, you’ll want a jar on hand at all times. You can even make it spicier by adding some chopped jalapeno peppers. 
  • Be generous with fried shallots and lime. Fried shallots add a delightful salty, savory crunch to the salad, while the lime wedges brighten the salad even more. Even though the lime juice is used in the dressing, be sure to squeeze more lime wedges right before eating.
  • Have fun with different herbs and toppings. You can use scallions instead of cilantro, or swap in your favorite crunchy vegetables. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds instead of fried shallots or use pickled jalapenos instead of pickled red onions. The possibilities are endless!